Name: James Alan Fowler
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Unit: Udorn Airfield, Thailand
Date of Birth: 07 January 1938 (Minneapolis MN)
Home City of Record: Bismark ND
Date of Loss: 06 June 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 215000N 1045300E (VK879141)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident:
John W. Seuell (missing)
Compiled by Homecoming II Project (919/527-8079) 01 April 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Copyright 1991 Homecoming II Project.
Lt.Colonel James A. Fowler and his weapons systems officer, Captain John W. Seuell, departed Udorn Airfield at 10 a.m. on June 6, 1972 on a combat air patrol mission northwest of Hanoi. Their F4D was the lead aircraft in a flight of four F4Ds on the mission.
The mission progressed as planned and the flight arrived in the target area without incident. Upon completion of the mission, the flight proceeded back to Thailand. Approaching surface-to-air missile launching sites near Yen Bai Airfield, North Vietnam, the launch of a missile was detected about 11:29 a.m. Although evasive maneuvers were initiated, the missile was seen to explode about five feet below the tail section of Fowler's plane. The aircraft burst into flames, but did not disintigrate. No canopies or parachutes were seen. Thirty minutes later, flights in the area reported hearing two emergency signals, but no voice contact could be established. Because the incident occurred deep in enemy territory, no organized search could be made.
The shootdown site was in an are in North Vietnam that the U.S. had access to in May, 1973, but failed to inspect.
When 591 Americans were released from Vietnam in 1973, Fowler and Seuell were not among them. Neither were hundreds more whom military heads believed had been captured. Unlike MIAs in other wars, most of the nearly 2500 missing in Vietnam can be accounted for with relative ease. Since the war's end, thousands of reports have been received by the U.S. Government regarding Americans still in captivity in Southeast Asia. There is a large volume of evidence which indicates that hundreds are still being held. Perhaps two of them could be Fowler and Seuell.
Henry Kissinger predicted, in the 50's, that future "limited political engagements" would result, unfortunately, in nonrecoverable prisoners of war. We have seen this prediction fulfilled in Korea and Vietnam, where thousands of men and women remain missing, and where ample evidence exists that many of them (from BOTH wars) are still alive today. The U.S. Government seems unable (or unwilling) to negotiate their freedom. For Americans, the "unfortunate" abandonment of military personnel is not acceptable, and the policy that allows it must be changed before another generation is left behind in some faraway war.
James A. Fowler was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the period he was maintained missing. Seuell's rank was maintained as Captain.